Posts Tagged ‘wireless’

FCC Approval for 6GHz Wi-Fi

Whether you’re working from home, or the office, the use of Wi-Fi continues to expand. Internet traffic is rising, with 50% increases seen in global regions, cities, as well as 228% growth of VoIP and video use, with much of that traffic going over Wi-Fi. Our connected world and economy is clearly relying heavily on Wi-Fi technology. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Wi-Fi was already becoming bogged-down with the increase of mobile devices, IoT, new applications like 4K video and VR/AR. Wi-Fi 6 was released to help satisfy the needs of the hungry Wi-Fi ecosystem, but the growth of wireless always continues to outpace whatever is capacity gains are invented.

Mobile momentum metrics infographic

Source: Cisco Annual Internet Report, 2018–2023

Thank you to the FCC

Today, on April 23rd, the FCC Commission voted to approve 1,200MHz of additional spectrum to Wi-Fi. The information superhighway is getting supercharged with a whole host of additional high-speed lanes. As Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, mentions

“[The 6GHz band] would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five”

With these new approvals, Cisco Meraki is excited to help build the internet of the future. In fact, when I was interviewing for the role that I currently hold, our SVP & GM Todd Nightingale asked me what got me excited about Wi-Fi. I told him: ‘6 Ghz’. This was back in Nov 2018 and Ajit Pai had just announced his commitment to 6GHz. Fast forward and here we are, it is real!

Wi-Fi 6’s growth into the 6 GHz spectrum is a game-changer for two reasons – the availability of the additional channels and the ability to finally use 160Mhz for high bandwidth applications like AR and VR. 6GHz provides enormous opportunities to build new applications and experiences for both consumers and businesses. 

In addition to new applications, newly available channels will translate to less RF issues and simplicity of maintenance. At Meraki, we look forward to supporting networks as they see significant increases in IoT, wearables, industrial sensors, 4K/8K video, critical telehealth, and remote learning in the coming years.

Learn more 

For more information about our Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ access points, read more here.

Meraki Access Points are now Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™

As we enter the middle of 2020, the year is shaping up to be an interesting one for Wi-Fi. With the explosion in remote work, we have seen increases in both video collaboration and Wi-Fi calling. On April 1st, AT&T saw an increase of 105% above average Wi-Fi calling. WPA3, the next generation of Wi-Fi security, is rolling out to deliver better encryption for sensitive data. Wi-Fi 6 continues to proliferate as new Wi-Fi 6 clients, such as the 2020 iPad Pro, enter the market.

To take full advantage of the new Wi-Fi trends and new clients in 2020, a Wi-Fi 6 network infrastructure needs to be in place. Deploying Wi-Fi 6 access points will ensure 802.11ax clients experience high-quality and low-latency performance.

gif of client view on Meraki dashboard
Official Wi-Fi 6 certification

The MR36, MR46, and MR56 have now received official certification status for Wi-Fi 6 from the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Whether you are on a call or video conference, Wi-Fi 6 can help enable high levels of efficiency and low latency. OFDMA and MU-MIMO in both the uplink and downlink direction help support a multitude of devices with up to 75% lower latency. While working from home over a secure Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access point, you can experience seamless video conferencing or VoIP calls, while your family watches Netflix in the next room. Hospitals and financial services organizations can offer critical connectivity while supporting the highest security standards, with WPA3.

Learn more

To hear more about recent Meraki Wi-Fi updates, listen in to episode 22 of Meraki Unboxed, which discusses:

  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ 
  • Remote work & organizational agility
  • Meraki health beyond wireless
  • Wi-Fi 6 clients
  • Roadmap sneak peeks

Cisco Meraki continues to deliver market-leading Wi-Fi to the Cisco portfolio. Cisco has been named a leader in the September 2019 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure. To learn more about the newest Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access points, please visit our What’s New page.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


The last decade has seen Wi-Fi grow to reach shocking milestones, with over $2 trillion of economic value delivered. This new decade is on track to be the era of Wi-Fi dominance, as 59% of all internet traffic will use the technology. The next 10 years will see new device types, and diverse high-density wireless environments, which is why we want to offer an expanded range of Wi-Fi 6 options. The Meraki Wi-Fi 6 portfolio, combined with Wireless Health and our recent security innovations, will help organizations prepare for a reliable and secure wireless future.

What’s new?

Today, we are introducing three new wireless access points to the Cisco Meraki lineup:

  • The MR56 is our best-in-class 8×8 Wi-Fi 6 access point, designed for ultra high-density, and ultra high-performance.
  • MR46 is our newest 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 access point, which will serve high-density, high-performance environments.
  • MR36 is Cisco’s first 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 access point, designed for high-performance requirements, and large scale deployments with an eye on value.

Meraki Wi-Fi 6

The three Wi-Fi 6 models feature all of the newest 802.11ax capabilities, including OFDMA and MU-MIMO for both downlink and uplink. These features are critical for environments with large amounts of wireless clients and high bandwidth requirements. For example, Meraki access points at the U.S. Open last year saw vast amounts of uplink traffic, as 200,000 attendees uploaded photos and videos to social media and iCloud.

The Meraki cloud will help deliver Wi-Fi 6 at scale across distributed sites and large quantities of mobile devices. Armed with Wi-Fi 6, IT admins can meet performance levels across a broad range of challenging Wi-Fi environments. For example, 4K video or new applications such as VR and AR require extremely low latency wireless. These new access points will provide an immersive wireless experience for those using these emerging technologies. Wi-Fi 6 delivers this performance, even in dense environments such as corporate headquarters, auditoriums, event halls, or retail stores.

We are excited to see what new possibilities await for device mobility across a broad range of use cases and environments. New decade, new possibilities!

To learn more, join us on an upcoming wireless webinar, or try out one of the new Wi-Fi 6 devices via free trial.

Landing on green with Meraki at the U.S. Open

For the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, Cisco delivered the most connected U.S. Open in history. With over 200,000 expected in attendance, the USGA wanted to provide new ways for fans to consume and share content, both on-site and around the world. As 156 golfers and hundreds of thousands of fans walked the course, Meraki provided first of its kind, course-wide Wi-Fi. This included wireless for indoor, outdoor, and the first-ever test of Wi-Fi 6 access points at a major sporting event. 

“For the first time ever, thanks to Cisco, we had the confidence that our fans would be able to stay connected to all the action inside the ropes and with friends and family back home no matter where they went on the course.” – Amanda Weiner, Senior Director, Digital Media, USGA

Hundreds of access points were deployed in a matter of days to blanket an ultra high density environment, and close to 39TB of internet traffic was transferred during the event. 70,000 unique clients roamed across the four-mile long Pebble Beach course, during a nationally televised event with 32 million people watching.

Meraki Wi-Fi U.S. Open

While Meraki Access Points are deployed in stadiums, golf courses add several unique challenges. These include the size of the course, weather conditions, and variability of Wi-Fi hot zones. Physical mounting, directional antennas, and RF settings must be configured to ensure a seamless fan experience. In addition, high-density areas like the media center and U.S. Open merchandise tent needed to be carefully planned to ensure high performance. The onsite media center at the course required connectivity for over 2,000 daily unique clients.

Meraki dashboard at U.S. Open

With Meraki Wi-Fi as the first point of network access across the course, we were able to introduce a number of innovative features within our U.S. Open App and video boards to enhance the fan experience.” – Amanda Weiner, Senior Director, Digital Media, USGA

The visibility of the Meraki dashboard and simplicity of configuring Wi-Fi was critical in delivering the connected course. The team was able to detect hot zones, deploy and tune the entire network in under a week. New Wi-Fi 6 APs were installed to allow the high density merchandise pavilion on the course to transfer close to 3TB of data. To learn more, take a look at the on-demand webinar to understand their technology strategy, and learn how the Meraki Wi-Fi network helped deliver a connected fan experience. Watch now

Cisco Live Cancún 2019

¿Eres de los que constantemente está leyendo sobre lo último en IT? ¿Te has imaginado que nos espera en el futuro? Cisco Live Cancún, es un espacio único para conocer y experimentar la tecnología simplificada, segura e inteligente de Cisco Meraki que permite a las organizaciones transformarse digitalmente.

Cisco Live Cancún será del 28 al 31 de octubre y quisiéramos compartirte algunas razones para animarte a vivir esta experiencia con nosotros:

  1. Sesiones técnicas: Meraki está incluido en siete sesiones técnicas. Estas sesiones se centran en tecnologías, estrategias de arquitectura, aplicaciones de solución de problemas para las soluciones o tecnologías de Cisco. Regístrese para las sesiones, ya que serán 100% Meraki. Los asistentes de Cisco Live pueden registrarse para estas presentaciones iniciando sesión en su cuenta en línea de Cisco Live e ingresando al catálogo de sesiones.
  2. Vertical summits: hay un total de siete sesiones verticales en Cisco Live Cancún y Meraki es patrocinador de tres. Manténgase actualizado, conozca las historias de éxito de otras compañías que ahora son una referencia en su industria, haga crecer su red y comience o adapte su estrategia tecnológica para llevar a su compañía un paso por delante de su competencia en las sesiones para gobierno, educación y salud.
  3. Zona DevNet: visite las sesiones de Meraki DevNet para obtener más información. Meraki tendrá seis sesiones en la zona DevNet. Los asistentes de Cisco Live pueden registrarse para estas presentaciones iniciando sesión en su cuenta en línea de Cisco Live e ingresando al Catálogo de sesiones.
  4. Demos (World of solutions): como complemento a todas las sesiones de aprendizaje, en el World of Solutions, podrá ver las soluciones de Cisco y sus partners. También podrá encontrar a Meraki en una variedad de demos en todo el Cisco Showcase: 
  • Launch | WiFi 6 Launch
  • Security | Meraki Security
  • Branch | Branch Security & SD-WAN powered by Meraki
  • Branch | Work Simple, Digital Workplace
  • Campus | Assurance in the Cisco Meraki Platform
  • Campus | High Density Wireless for Campus 

        5. Certificaciones: si necesita certificarse en las soluciones Cisco y reforzar su currículum, durante Cisco Live tiene la oportunidad de presentar cualquiera de los exámenes de certificación.

Además de todo lo que podrá aprender en este evento, Cisco Live Cancún también ofrece actividades divertidas y de ocio, como la tradicional carrera de 5 km, sesiones de yoga, el cóctel de apertura del WoS y la fiesta de clausura del evento.

Para más detalles de la participación de Meraki en Cisco Live visite nuestra página del evento y síganos en Twitter @MerakiLatam

Butler University Deploys 1,300+ APs to Provide Complete Access

Step anywhere on Butler University’s campus and you’ll see students swaying in hammocks in the outdoor quad, collaborating in large lecture halls, and cheering on the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse, all with a cell phone or laptop in hand. Butler was founded on the idea that everyone deserves access to a quality education, so it’s no surprise that the University’s leaders strive to provide equal access to all students and faculty by supplying campus-wide Wi-Fi. With more than 1,300 Cisco Meraki indoor and outdoor access points (APs) deployed across the campus, students can seamlessly connect wherever they are with no interruption to their education. The wireless upgrade also provided many unforeseen benefits to the IT team, directly impacting how they spend their time to improve everyday student life including ease of deployment, providing reliable connections, and gaining access to actionable insights.

Connecting 100,000 devices with the cloud-managed Wi-Fi

To the IT team’s surprise, the group who installed the cloud-managed access points didn’t need to have deep technical knowledge. The team deploying the APs comprised of both full-time IT staff and student workers, who together were able to deploy all 1,300+ APs across the campus in less than two weeks. This was made possible because of the cloud-managed Meraki dashboard, which allowed IT to preconfigure the devices before they arrived. They also used configuration templates, allowing the team to apply the same configuration to hundreds of devices and install them for immediate use. This enabled the student workers to simply plug the devices in and they were ready for use. In the last year since the deployment, over 100,000 devices have traversed the network, which has worked seamlessly for users.

High density with automated assurance 

Once the deployment was complete, it was immediately apparent that connections were more reliable, there was better coverage, and more robust troubleshooting tools were available for faster time to resolution. Students now have the same experience using their laptops in their dorm room as they do in the outdoor quad, ensuring they can stay connected no matter where they are on campus. With higher density APs, the IT team has seen hundreds of students seamlessly connect in a lecture hall and use the devices they need to without issue. They can also see where the most bandwidth is being used and on what application, and can limit the amount of bandwidth certain applications or devices are using to improve connection reliability and speed across campus. Instead of acting reactively to issues affecting the wireless network or running complicated scripts to verify wireless performance, the IT team now uses automated assurance with Meraki Wireless Health. They can quickly see the number of failed connections, obtain automated performance metrics, and provide root cause analysis of client connection issues. Different wireless needs exist across various environments on campus, including lecture halls, dorm rooms, stadiums, and outdoor spaces, and it was traditionally challenging to meet their different configuration needs. With Meraki, the IT team was able to create pre-defined and customizable RF Profiles to apply RF settings across all of their diverse environments.

The network as a platform

While providing reliable wireless access was the original IT team’s goal with their AP deployment, they quickly realized there was so much more they could do with their new solution. The information and tools already made available in the Meraki dashboard can inform how to design the campus moving forward, help improve student safety, allow them to personalize student experiences, and more. With Bluetooth beacons, they can send personalized communications to students that are connected to an AP in the dining hall, student center, or science building. By leveraging the Meraki API, they can pull data out of the dashboard and use it in other systems and tools to continue improving the student experience. With the vast amounts of data available at their fingertips, the IT team is continuing to explore new ways to take advantage of these insights and apply them to the University going forward.


Butler University is a pioneer in deploying innovative technology in the higher education industry. To learn why they chose Meraki wireless, how they were able to complete their deployment so quickly, how they leverage non-technical staff to manage and troubleshoot the network, and how they are thinking about using wireless data to do more than just provide access, watch the on demand webinar. Peter Williams, Associate Vice President of IT and Chief Information Officer, and Michael Denny, Network and Security Architect, at Butler University walk us through their Meraki deployment, including a live demo of their Meraki dashboard. Watch now. 

Making Informed Decisions with Data, Analytics, and APIs

Organizations are rich with information sources, from point-of-sale solutions and IoT sensors to camera systems and wireless access points. This data promises to optimize workplace processes and improve services by offering insights into customer behavior. But to truly take advantage of these benefits and make data-driven business decisions, organizations must find a way to connect their various data sources, presenting a complex challenge that can be difficult to execute in reality.  

Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) is one organization that has figured it out. MDPLS started with an ambitious goal — to provide personalized, relevant, and timely experiences to more than six million annual visitors across their 50 library branches in Miami-Dade County, Florida. To do this, MDPLS needed to understand unique differentiators about each library, such as how many guests they served, when the busiest times were, and what services were the most popular. By using APIs in combination with data and analytics, they were able to collect this valuable information and turn it into actionable insights. 

In order to identify the personalized services and content required at each library, MDPLS needed to determine what data sources to pull from. The wired and wireless network was one clear choice to gather insights into how the different libraries were being used. However, with a lean IT team and tight government budgets, a complex networking solution that required additional analytics tools and resources couldn’t be justified. The small team needed a comprehensive, easy-to-manage solution that could provide the reliable connection visitors expected, while also providing data and analytics to improve library experiences. The MDPLS team was able to meet these requirements by implementing Cisco Meraki cloud-managed access points and switches. The browser-based Meraki dashboard enables complete visibility and control with the entire network being managed from one place, simplifying day-to-day maintenance and troubleshooting.

However, collecting network data was just the first step. The IT team then needed to decide which other IoT or connected devices they wanted to implement to collect additional data. The MDPLS team started this next phase with Meraki MV smart cameras. Like the rest of their Meraki products, the cameras are managed through the same cloud-based dashboard, streamlining the management of all their IT devices. The added benefit of on-camera storage also eliminated the need for a network video recorder (NVR) and its associated software, greatly simplifying the deployment and ongoing maintenance for the IT and facilities teams. 

Above all, the most important element of the smart cameras for MDPLS is the built-in machine learning-based analytics. This enables the cameras to anonymously detect and count people, find incidences faster and with more accuracy, and understand where people are moving throughout specific areas, without additional software, servers, or complex configurations. By setting up a camera at each library entrance, the MDPLS team can better understand the number of people entering and exiting throughout the day and learn the overall number of library visitors. Additional cameras throughout the libraries help MDPLS understand what library services are being used and what content is the most popular based on where people are moving and congregating.

In addition to their Meraki access points, switches, and cameras, MDPLS had additional data sources to consider, including book checkout machines, library-owned computers, and more. In order to take advantage of these different data sources, they needed to find a way to collect the data in a digestible format. Using the Meraki API, the team pulls relevant data from the access points, switches, cameras, along with library data, into a cohesive, custom-built dashboard that shows important information about the library system. By having insight into this data, including  how many people are visiting each library, the number of people that are using the Wi-Fi on their personal devices versus the library computers, what types of books are being checked out, and what other library resources are being used, the MDPLS leadership is able to determine what additional services and resources their visitors may need. This, in turn, helps to inform them where budget adjustments or additions are needed. With 50 different libraries spread across a very diverse area, being able to ensure the needs of each branch are being met is key to the library system’s success.

To learn more about the MDPLS Meraki deployment and how they are using data and analytics to make decisions, watch the webinar recording with Julio Campa, Systems Support Manager for MDPLS. You will see a live demo of their Meraki dashboard and hear some great insights into their deployment. Watch now.

When Will Wi-Fi 6 Hit the Mainstream?

In case you haven’t already heard, the next generation of wireless is upon us. Wi-Fi 6 promises higher throughputs, substantially better performance in high density environments, and energy savings for connected clients. It’s an exciting time for the entire tech industry, and consumers will soon begin to realize the benefits that this new wireless standard brings, especially when using their devices in congested environments.

The billion dollar question for IT admins remains: when will consumers start using Wi-Fi 6 client devices in earnest? Here’s some information that should help you decide on a timeframe for deploying new Wi-Fi 6 compatible networking hardware, whether you’ve already set aside budget for a network refresh or you’re still considering whether Wi-Fi 6 is worth all the hype.

When will the Wi-Fi 6 spec be officially finalized?

The development of a new wireless standard can take years, and that’s certainly been the case with Wi-Fi 6, whose feature set has been incubating since 2013. Just as with previous standards like 802.11n and 802.11ac, the Wi-Fi Alliance has released a draft spec that hardware makers are basing their new devices on, ahead of the release of the final spec. It’s entirely possible that the Wi-Fi 6 spec won’t be finalized until the last few months of 2019 or even early 2020, and this final version could include additional improvements in terms of performance or energy savings.

That said, there’s no reason to hold off on buying hardware built on the draft Wi-Fi 6 spec. The Wi-Fi Alliance only releases a draft spec once it is committed to no longer making any major changes. Over the next few months, Wi-Fi 6 vendors will understand the mandatory and optional features for the WFA Certification, which will drive future product strategy. However, those who upgrade now will be happy to know that Cisco Wi-Fi 6 compatible hardware has been thoroughly tested with Samsung and Intel Wi-Fi 6 clients.

When will Wi-Fi 6 devices start to hit the market in meaningful numbers?

Wi-Fi 6 compatible access points and switches are coming fast and furious. Almost every major networking vendor, including Cisco Meraki, has announced or is already shipping Wi-Fi 6 compatible hardware. On the other hand, Wi-Fi 6 client devices are still few and far between as of May 2019.

This will all change quickly, though. Wi-Fi 6 devices are expected to be more than half of the devices sold in 2020. Qualcomm, which supplies modems and chipsets for most of the smartphone industry, recently unveiled the Snapdragon 855, which includes support for Wi-Fi 6 and will be included in most Android flagships that debut this year. Other smartphone, computer, and tablet makers across the industry, like Apple, will also undoubtedly unveil support for Wi-Fi 6 soon.

In short: Wi-Fi 6 networking hardware is available from almost every networking vendor today, and by the end of 2019, most new flagship devices should come with the newest generation of Wi-Fi.

When is the best time to invest in new Wi-Fi 6 compatible networking equipment?

Every new Wi-Fi standard comes with a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: network admins don’t want to be caught flat-footed with outdated networks once newer client devices start appearing everywhere, but these same admins also don’t want to rush to deploy new networking hardware if Wi-Fi 6 client devices won’t appear for a while. The latter scenario is especially relevant if a network refresh comes at the cost of other, more higher priority initiatives. The way to proceed is a bit nuanced, depending on the kind of network environment you’re managing.

If the network you manage supports high density use cases — say, if your users are using Wi-Fi in a crowded office environment, stadium, dining hall, or park — try to prioritize a Wi-Fi 6 deployment. This is doubly true if users are complaining about slow and/or unreliable performance. Even though most users today don’t have Wi-Fi 6 client devices, they will still enjoy some improvements in upstream and downstream throughputs and reliability thanks to the new 8×8 radio architecture of new Wi-Fi 6 APs. Once Wi-Fi 6 client devices start appearing everywhere, the full benefits of Wi-Fi 6 will become immediately apparent: much improved reliability, faster speeds, and improved battery life.

Some IT admins don’t need to worry about high density use cases or may have just undergone a network refresh under the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac Wave 2) spec. If this is the case for you, it might make sense to wait to deploy Wi-Fi 6 compatible networking equipment until Wi-Fi 6 client devices hit a critical mass. Note that the new Wi-Fi 6 standard is fully backwards-compatible: Wi-Fi 6 client devices will be fully compatible with APs equipped with 802.11ac (or older), and older client devices will still work perfectly fine with Wi-Fi 6 compatible APs.

Wait, what about 5G? Shouldn’t I wait to see how that plays out?

Indeed, Wi-Fi 6 isn’t the only cool new standard hitting the airwaves (pun intended). The other new kid on the block is 5G, a new generation of cellular connectivity that promises dramatically better performance over the current standard, 4G LTE.

Some industry watchers have claimed that 5G means the end of Wi-Fi. After all, they say, now that cellular networks can be as fast as Wi-Fi networks, who needs Wi-Fi?

But the data caps and performance penalties that affect 4G LTE today will likely come with 5G as well. It’s unlikely that an office worker will rely exclusively on 5G bandwidth to get work done for 9 hours a day (or that her office manager will want to pay for it). Additionally, 5G radio frequencies delivering the greatest performance improvements won’t be able to penetrate far indoors and cover those environments as well as Wi-Fi can; it’s no wonder that 5G networks will actually offload more traffic to Wi-Fi networks than LTE networks do today because of the coming influx of more data-hungry devices and applications.

Wi-Fi will continue to have many advantages from a cost standpoint and is superior for most indoor use cases. As a result, IT teams will continue to deploy the latest and greatest in Wi-Fi technology going into the future.

The introduction of Wi-Fi 6 is a watershed moment for the tech world, and as digital technology has become more and more ingrained in consumers’ everyday lives, Wi-Fi 6 will change how we all work, play, and interact with one another. Hopefully you now have a better sense for when the right time is to invest in the next generation of wireless.

To learn more about Wi-Fi 6, check out our white paper and watch the launch webinar for the Meraki MR45 and MR55, our newest APs that are Wi-Fi 6 compatible. And be sure to chime in on the Meraki Community with your thoughts on Wi-Fi 6!

Where Dorms are Headed in 2019… and Beyond

Stepping onto a college or university campus has been a rite of passage for generations of students, and few settings capture the collegiate atmosphere more than dormitories. Dorms represent far more than just a place to sleep and study; they are an integral part of the college experience, providing a place for students to meet one another and acclimate to college life together.

Over the last couple of decades, many dorms have undergone dramatic transformations. As with nearly every other aspect of higher education, dorms have changed thanks to a rapid influx of new technology, from students bringing more wireless devices onto campus to universities replacing keys with access cards for improved physical security. This transformation will continue unabated into the future.

How will dorms continue to evolve? Here are three trends that IT staff should look out for and their implications on the residential college experience.

1. More reliance on SaaS applications

Now more than ever, students are constantly using SaaS applications for learning, entertainment, organization, socializing, and more: everything from Khan Academy to Netflix to Spotify to Xbox Live, all around the clock. This trend has also coincided with a decrease in P2P file sharing, as many students have found it easier to obtain media through legal streaming channels than through torrenting.

What does this mean for IT staff? The greater confluence of “always on” applications means that administrators need to build out network infrastructure that can handle consistently high levels of usage. This makes network deployments both easier and harder. Easier, because once the number of devices and applications connected to the network is known, the amount of traffic is easier to predict and spikes in traffic due to torrenting are less likely. Harder, because demands on the network will likely grow faster than ever before. As a result, IT admins should plan on making extra bandwidth available for future use. Moreover, IT teams that leverage SD-WAN technology can intelligently balance the network load across multiple uplinks, lowering bandwidth costs by delivering MPLS-like reliability on any broadband uplink.

2. Devices flood the dorms

Every year, videos pop up on YouTube showcasing tricked-out dorm rooms with crazy light shows and smart blinds, often designed by enterprising engineering students. While dorm rooms enhanced to this level aren’t the norm, many universities are witnessing smart technologies infiltrate the residence halls, including things like smart speakers and smart home hubs. As EdTech notes, students are bringing personal consumer devices onto campus at an unprecedented rate.

It’s worth noting that students are the only ones bringing new and innovative technology onto campuses. Higher education IT teams have also been deploying new connected devices to enhance the student experience. The University of Michigan and Indiana University, for example, have set up whiteboards with touchscreens, large video conferencing displays, and flat panel TVs to make student programming more accessible and to enable easier student collaboration.

This increase of devices in dorms means that IT admins need to look at network management in a new way. Over the last decade, many higher education IT teams have focused on blanketing large areas of campus with Wi-Fi, but density was historically less of a concern since students only brought 1-2 devices to school. Now, as the number of devices has ballooned, IT admins need to focus their efforts on deploying wireless infrastructure in environments with tough RF challenges. The goal: ensure a great experience on every device for every use case, whether students are doing online research or engaging in live video collaboration.

3. Changes in the way dorms are designed and built

The role of the dorm has seen a fairly dramatic shift over the last few decades. For the most part, dorms used to be a place for students to eat, sleep, and throw the occasional party, while groups who wanted to study would head to the library or academic buildings. However, as digital technology has made collaboration easier — think shared documents and video chat — colleges have rebuilt dorms around the need for students to live and learn in a single building.

What does this look like? As Building Design + Construction notes, select universities are starting to embrace a mix of suite-style privacy with more public spaces designed for greater student interaction. They’ve started to move away from isolated study carrels and instead create more open, collaboration-friendly lounges where groups of students can hang out together. As the cost of security technologies like fingerprint readers and cameras comes down, many universities are equipping dorms with those as well. Some universities are also embracing students’ desires to study outside by outfitting quads and plazas with fast wireless connectivity.

It’s also worth noting that as students continue to bring more devices to campus and more schoolwork is completed through web-based portals, the need for dedicated computer lounges has shrunk significantly.

To adapt to these changes, IT teams need to plan for more dense environments and deploy reliable networking infrastructure that can handle many different devices connecting at once. Additionally, as computer labs become less important in the dorm environment, IT teams may instead install more wireless access points so students can get online from anywhere in the building. Third, as students spend more time inside dorms, the need for physical security (e.g., badge scanners, fingerprint readers, and cameras) increases, as does the need for the networking infrastructure to support these security measures.

To equip dorms for the next decade, IT teams need to build out infrastructure that can support high-bandwidth, always-on applications and that is easy to manage. At the same time, it’s crucial that this infrastructure be protected against the latest security threats and regularly updated with new capabilities. After all, universities can’t afford to deal with security vulnerabilities or rip and replace IT infrastructure every few years.

Cloud-managed networking and security solutions from Cisco Meraki are built with the needs of university environments in mind. All Meraki products receive firmware updates automatically and are managed through a web-based dashboard, making it easy for IT admins to manage many different deployments across campus from a single place.

To learn more about why Meraki is ideal for institutions of higher education, check out our issue brief, Rethinking Dorm Wi-Fi.

Our Topology Icons Speak Volumes

Communicating technical topics to a broad audience can be challenging. Photos, illustrations, and video are all helpful tools designed to simplify complex subjects, but it’s easy to go overboard when describing a product as intricate as a switch or security appliance.

To help everyone represent Cisco Meraki products and related concepts more clearly, Meraki has released a set of official topology icons (in png and svg formats) to encourage collaboration and discussion.

Speaking a single language

The icons help to describe key networking ideas more consistently across our entire product line. The products covered include our switches, access points, smart cameras, security and SD-WAN devices, virtual appliances, and other generic networking items. The images can be used freely, with attribution, as a part of the Creative Commons terms of use. We envision the icons being used in topology diagrams for deployment documents, blogs, forums, and social media.

Below is a symbol legend for some select icons you will find inside our larger icon set in the Meraki Library.

Topology Set Icons

Left-to-Right Arrows for Layer 2 – The two sets of arrows going right and left indicate communication between devices at Layer 2. Available on MS device icons. Example:

Diagonal Arrows for Layer 3 – Our Layer 3 icon adds diagonal arrows to indicate the routing capabilities available on MS and MX products. Example:

Wireless – The icon represents a device that has Wi-Fi capabilities. Available on MR wireless, select MX security appliances, and Z-Series teleworker appliances. Example:

MX SD-WAN and security specific symbols – The MX icon includes symbols for inspecting traffic (magnifying glass), diagonal arrows for routing, and a brick wall for protection against bad actors. Example:

Dotted Line for Virtual Appliances – The virtual appliance provides Meraki security and SD-WAN services for migrating IT services to Amazon Web Services and or Microsoft Azure. Example:

Server – The server icon has several sub-icons to highlight important characteristics. Available with cloud, directory, domain, file, web, and Meraki servers. Example:

If you would like to get started, consider downloading our full icon set to begin incorporating the images into your topology maps, Meraki community messages, personal blogs, and Twitter posts.

Meraki Topology Icons by Cisco Meraki are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.